The Survival Advantage of Lobectomy over Wedge Resection Lessens as Health-Related Life Expectancy Decreases

Michelle C. Salazar, Maureen E. Canavan, Samantha L. Walters, Sitaram Chilakamarry, Theresa Ermer, Justin D. Blasberg, James B. Yu, Cary P. Gross, Daniel J. Boffa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Patients with early-stage NSCLC typically must choose between a surgery with superior local control (lobectomy) or one that preserves lung parenchyma (wedge). Recognizing that many patients with cancer have competing mortality risks unrelated to cancer, we investigated whether an established model of predicting life expectancy could be used to identify patients with stage I NSCLC for whom survival after wedge is not different from lobectomy. Methods: A retrospective cohort study using the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results—Medicare was performed to evaluate survival among treatment-naive patients, diagnosed 2005–2015, who underwent lobectomy or wedge for stage I (≤2 cm tumors) NSCLC. Comorbidity-related life expectancy (CR-LE) was estimated using a standard life-table approach based on comorbid conditions, sex, and age. Cox models and perioperative complications were stratified by 5-year CR-LE. Results: A total of 4560 patients (median age 74, interquartile range 70–78) were identified. CR-LE was greater than or equal to 5 years for 4016 patients (wedge = 23%). CR-LE was less than 5 years for 544 patients (wedge = 41%). Among patients with CR-LE greater than or equal to 5, wedge resection was associated with higher risk of mortality than lobectomy (hazard ratio: 1.68, 95% confidence interval: 1.52–1.86, p < 0.001). For those with CR-LE less than 5, there was no significant difference in mortality risk between lobectomy and wedge (hazard ratio: 1.19, 95% confidence interval: 0.96–1.47; p = 0.11). CR-LE less than five patients who underwent a lobectomy had higher 90-day mortality compared with wedge (9% versus 4%, p = 0.04). Conclusion: The survival advantage of lobectomy over wedge for stage I NSCLC seems to dissipate among patients with shorter life expectancy owing to age and comorbidities. Wedge resection may be a reasonable option for patients at high risk of dying from non–cancer-related causes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100143
JournalJTO Clinical and Research Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Lobectomy
  • Mortality
  • Non–small cell lung cancer
  • Stage I
  • Wedge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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